With the festive period just around the corner and ideas turning to gifts, What’s On thinks it’s a good time to remind you that a pets require total commitment when you welcome them into your home. Here’s everything you need to know about owning a pet in Dubai.

In such a busy and ever-changing city such as Dubai, keeping a pet is a totally different ballgame. The uncertain future in the area for many people often means leaving at a moment’s notice, and shelters like K9 Friends regularly receive panicked phone calls from people desperate for them to take their dog. The lucky ones with thoughtful owners do end up at the shelter, but many others are simply thrown out onto the streets, or even tied up at one of the city’s landmarks in the hope someone will take them on.

The shelter works with several foster homes that take on new dogs temporarily to assess their suitability to be rehomed and, if necessary, give them basic training. K9 Friends was gifted a building by the Dubai Government but all of the bills and upkeep are funded by the shelter and any donations they receive.

Unfortunately, the shelter has a limited capacity, and as much as they’d like to help all of the abandoned dogs here, it’s impossible for them to take in more dogs than they can realistically accommodate. Only when they rehome a dog can they accept another one; so if you adopt one dog from K9 Friends, you’re really saving the lives of two.

Many of the people who come to the shelter to adopt are looking for puppies or small dogs, but there are so many beautiful larger dogs with friendly natures who are extremely deserving of a safe and happy home and just longing to find a new owner or new family to love.

K9 Friends have told us a bit about a few of their most deserving dogs – if you feel you can offer one of these, or any of the beautiful animals at K9 Friends a safe and loving home, get in touch.

K9 Friends, Dubai
Tel. (04) 8858031. E-mail info@k9friends

Raimundo Tamagnini has worked in veterinary clinics in Portugal, Spain and the UK before moving to Dubai four years ago. You’ll find him at the City Vet Clinic where he’s now the senior vet.

What are the most common problems you see in UAE pets? During our consults the most frequent problems are skin diseases, digestive problems and cat flu. Unfortunately animal obesity has become another major problem recently.

What’s the most unusual case you’ve ever treated? I once treated a three-month-old puppy with a congenital heart problem. Performing a heart surgery in such a small animal was very challenging, but it was so rewarding seeing him a few weeks later playing as a healthy puppy.

What advice would you give to someone searching for a vet? Look for a clinic or hospital that can provide emergency care and that is fully equipped. Every minute counts and you need to go to a place that can provide everything your pet needs.

Can you recommend any good places to walk your dog? Unfortunately Dubai is not the ideal dog-walking place. There are a few places such as the Green Community and Victory Heights. Other than that I’d suggest one of the several ‘day care’ centres that have ample room.

What’s the funniest pet name you’ve ever heard? ‘Eight’. I asked to the owner why and he told me that he has five children plus his wife, so that’s seven in total… and when they got the Labrador he would be the eighth member of the family.

Do you have a pet? I have three amazing stray cats. Each one of them has a different character. Johnson is the chilled out man of the house, Daphne, the mother of the pack, and Marge who’s the child with far too much energy.

The City Vet Clinic, Corner of Al Wasl and Manara Road, Dubai
Tel: (04) 3883990. Tel: (056) 7948075 (emergencies). Taxi: Spinneys, Al Wasl Road.

UAE pet professor Sandra Popp from the Dubai Kennels & Cattery is an expert in training animals

How do you teach a basic trick? All ‘tricks’ and commands can easily be taught with positive reinforcement methods. That means the dog will get rewarded with something pleasing (food, toys, praise) each and every time it does the correct thing the instant it does it. Some behaviour can be shaped (the dog offers it already, you just put it on a cue) and some need to be lured (by enticing the dog with a reward to show a certain behaviour). It also helps to use a marker, like the noise of a clicker or a certain word, to mark the exact moment in time, when the dog has done the correct thing.

How do you show your dog who is in command? Consistency. People are frequently inconsistent when it comes to their dogs. Today, Fido is allowed to jump up on you, because you’re wearing your old jeans, but tomorrow he isn’t, because you are wearing your new suit to work. Fido is receiving mixed messages and we’re blaming him for not learning how to greet people nicely. Setting the rules and boundaries from day one will help prevent many issues. You don’t necessarily need to be your dog’s boss or Alfa, at least not in the traditionally understood way of forcing a dog into submission. It’s more like a partnership or friendship – in which you get to make all the decisions.

What is the benefit in having a dog trained beyond the basics? The better a dog is trained, the more freedom it has. A well balanced, well socialised and well trained dog can be taken along almost anywhere and does not need to be locked up at home.

How can you tell if your pet needs some extra training? Training continues throughout the dog’s entire life. But it also depends on what kind of purpose the dog is supposed to fulfill and what kind of personal ambitions the owner has. Many dog owners only seek professional help when the dog is already showing problem behaviours, and by then the problem can be ingrained and difficult to fix.

Dubai Kennels & Cattery, Street 34 Umm Ramool, Rashidiya, Dubai
Tel: (04) 2851646. Taxi: Festival city.

This article first appeared in What’s On in December 2012